The average cost for finishing a basement ranges between $5,100 and $8,750, nationwide. Basement refinishing costs can go much higher than $8,750 depending on the square feet of your project, the project scope, regional labor costs, and the grade of finishes you select.
General contractors can help finish a basement to add resale value and square footage to a home’s living space. Finishing a basement can be as simple as leveling and finishing raw floors to create a clean storage space or as involved as building in basement bathrooms, bedrooms, a home theater, a home office, a kitchen, an exercise area, a laundry room or even turning it into a separate apartment. Basement finishing jobs often include installing flooring, walls, windows, doors, a ceiling, trim, built-in shelving, lights or a fireplace. Contractors can oversee the relocation or installation of new outlets and switches, lighting, or heating and cooling vents. Final touches may include carpet and painting. Many factors affect the overall cost of basement finishing.
What's In This Cost Guide?
- How is a Finished Basement Different From an Unfinished Basement?
- What Affects the Cost of Basement Finishing?
- How Much is Basement Waterproofing?
- Benefits of Basement Finishing
How is a Finished Basement Different From an Unfinished Basement?
At its most basic, a finished basement is different from an unfinished basement because it has floors, ceilings, and walls like those in the main house, while an unfinished basement has bare concrete floors, no drywall covering the framing, and exposed ceiling beams. Usually, however, when people plan on finishing a basement it means more than merely covering the concrete floors and exposed joists of an unfinished basement. Homeowners usually undertake a basement remodeling project like this to transform an unfinished basement into a livable, useable space by adding in electrical wiring, lighting, plumbing, a basement bathroom, and a functional area such as a laundry room, a family room, or a home theater.
What Affects the Cost of Basement Finishing?
Material costs, square footage, general contractor rates, scope of work and labor costs all affect total cost for this type of basement renovation. In one example, a general contractor in Rockville, Maryland, charges an average of $24–$34 per square foot for basement finishing. That price range reflects the types of materials and finishes selected by the customer. The larger your project scope, the lower the price your general contractor can give you for the individual projects within the basement renovation. As an example, you'll pay less to add a basement bathroom when you also hire the same general contractor to do the flooring, electrical wiring and whole basement project at the same time, as opposed to hiring someone just to install a bathroom.
The total square foot basement measurements will affect your project costs. Contractors consider all the components of a job, including the materials and skilled labor required and the amount of time and permits needed to finish the basement. Using these details, they can create a quote with a price per square foot, which will include all the work to be done. The price per square foot may increase when basements are small because the amount of work remains high and the company needs to charge a minimum fee to cover the cost of doing business as well as materials and labor. No true estimate can be given until a contractor sees the project in person.
Adding a new bathroom will increase the cost of finishing a basement. Depending on whether plumbing lines already exist or need to be installed as well as the grade of fixtures and other materials selected, a new bathroom could range from $3,000 to $15,000 or more, explains the bathroom building pros at Viewpoint NW in Vancouver, Washington. A standard full bathroom with a shower should average about $5,000. Keep in mind, that cost could be lower if the price is rolled into a larger basement finishing project instead of a standalone bathroom addition to the basement.
A professional electrician or contractor licensed to do electrical work can safely install wiring if a basement has none (check out our smart hiring tips to learn more about safety when making hiring decisions). For basic work, Ingram Construction LLC in Washington, D.C. charges about $180 to move two outlets and install a third in an exposed basement wall with no drywall. The more switches and outlets installed, the lower the cost per item. For home theaters and projects that require an increase in a home’s total energy capacity, Ingram Construction LLC charges $3,500 to perform what’s called a "heavy up." The company replaces the breaker, installs all new electrical lines and secures necessary permits and licenses. Keep in mind, this cost could be lower if the price is rolled into a larger basement finishing project instead of standalone electrical work.
The choice of flooring selection also affects the total cost of refinishing a basement. The least expensive option may be to stain the existing concrete. Bringing in professionals to install carpet, vinyl or tile flooring, or hardwood floors costs more. For example, W&B Villa Construction in Deerfield Beach, Florida, charges $3.20–$3.50 per square foot to install wood-look tile in spaces ranging from 6x24 feet to 8x48 feet.
Installing a laundry room, basement bathroom or kitchen all require water and drainage pipes. If there are no existing plumbing lines in the basement, professional plumbers and some licensed contractors can safely install the system, which will increase costs.
Repairs and damage
Addressing any needed repairs before finishing a basement is a good idea and will also increase overall costs of your project. In addition, if pros discover water damage, evidence of termite infestation or structural concerns during a finishing project, the timeline will shift and costs will increase.
Materials greatly affect the cost of basement refinishing. The high-end basement straight out of a remodeling magazine will have a higher price tag than a basic basement finished with contractor-grade (entry level) flooring and fixtures.
Unless your basement already has window or door access directly to the outdoors, area building codes may require installation of exit windows (for emergencies) when transforming a bare basement into livable space or sleeping quarters. Adding an egress window may require contractors to excavate land and reframe part of an exterior wall to meet this building code, resulting in a higher overall cost.
How Much is Basement Waterproofing?
The nationwide average cost for basement waterproofing ranges from $500-$3,500, or more depending on your needs. Basement waterproofing will likely have a lower cost if it is part of a larger basement finishing project than if you hire someone to tackle this task alone. Basement waterproofing uses a range of methods to ensure water seepage and collected moisture don't damage your foundation or bring mold into your home. Before renovating your basement space, communicate with your general contractor about what, if any, steps need to be taken to waterproof your basement. Ignoring moisture issues and installing flooring and drywall before waterproofing your basement will lead to more money lost in the long run. Installing a sump pump is one way to address water that's collecting due to leaks, poor drainage, or foundation seepage. The pros can also apply concrete sealer to prevent moisture from creeping through the foundation.
Benefits of Basement Finishing
There are some seriously lucrative benefits to basement finishing:
- Increase the resale value of your home
- Add to the square footage of living space for your family
- Increase your home size for less than the cost of a room addition above-ground (which can run from $10,000-$80,000, or more). The reason basement finishing costs less is the framing, foundation, and ceiling of your basement are already in place, whereas a room addition has to be built from the ground up
- Finished basements can provide rental income